Monday 29 June 2009

Are you Expecting?

The three words you really don't want to be asked if you are not and I'm not. Admittedly I was thinking this morning my stomach looks a bit bloated and hardly surprising, I've been stuffing myself with sausage sandwiches and baked beans on toast around the camping fire. This always happens when I eat too much wheat and that is why I usually avoid it. We went to camp in the garden of my friends inlaws. They live on Glastonbury and we were there for the festival. But really!! The poor woman who serves at the chemist was more embarrassed than I was. She turned a very bright shade of red and then mumbled something about how she was looking.....but didn't really have the heart to finish. I mean what could she say? Where can you go from there? This has happened twice before, once at a party when Belle was four weeks old, and once around the same kind of time, when I was sitting slouched in a bank. And I made the mistake of once asking a friend, who'd recently had a baby, what was her due date. I wrote and apologized and she took it really well. My rule now is never to ask a woman, unless she offers the information, even is she is about to burst!

I walked home in the searing heat and told my neighbour about what had happened in the chemist. He is a man in his fifties who is a cox in a rowing team and weighs just 8 stone 8. About two stone less than me, though I am taller. He says he hardly eats for the rowing season as he has to be a certain weight to compete. He has mango for breakfast and melon for lunch. He told me where to go and buy the Pakistani mangoes in season for just four weeks. That is where I'm heading as soon as Ive picked up the children. Oh God!!!

Wednesday 10 June 2009

A kitten is saved

I had a heart warming email yesterday from a woman I met in Essaouira about a kitten my son Jude and I rescued from the main square over there. She was a tiny kitten with a broken back leg and can’t have been more than two or three weeks old when we found her. We couldn’t bear to leave her, but returned that evening to find she was still there, crouching outside a café, where someone had left her a saucer of milk. She has now been given to new owners and christened Canelle. What a relief. On the day we found her Jude asked if we could take the kitten home, but instead we tracked down an English woman called Suzy who loves cats and spends quite a large chunk of time finding strays in the streets of the walled city and rescuing them. You could rescue all the cats, as they all look malnourished and dehydrated but some manage to get by with scraps from the fish market and old guts and offal that the stall holders in the meat market throw out. I saw cats with infected eyes and sore looking tails, and half starved. Susie is in touch with a British charity that goes over to Essaouirra and neuters the strays and gives them medicines. It’s a never-ending job. – Suzy took ‘Canelle’ home that evening, after we showed her where the kitten was, and took her to the vets, and then found her the new home.

We stayed in a wonderful traditional house done up in a funky style and called Da Baida .Graham who owns the house with his ex partner Emma says that the cat people should be concentrating on the helping the pregnant women from Essaouira who can’t afford to have emergency caesareans and die giving birth. He has a point, but each to their own and the women who run hsam are vets, so their interest is in animals. I say three cheers to anyone, who has the time, and makes the effort to help.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Post Holiday Blues

Am just back from Essaouira in Morocco. I was desperately in need of a break after the launch of my novel, The Seven Year Itch. There was a party and several articles to write and photographers who came to photograph the children and me. I was so nervous during the party at Daunt Books, my heart was hammering in my chest and I felt spacey and strange. During the launch I beamed and signed books, picked at nuts and probably drank too much. I had bought a gold dress for the occasion and had my hair done and the dress was so tight, that it was quite an effort to sign 70 books. It was all very heart warming and fun. There is another launch at a local café, Cupboard Café in Oaklands Grove, W12, on June 4th. The café is a haven from the souk that is the Uxbridge Road, and the owner, Natalie, the woman who gets things done brilliantly, has started a series of parties for local authors. Please come.

Essaouira is the most beautiful walled town on the coast of Morocco, where the houses are mostly painted blue and white. It is two and a half hours drive from Marrakech. We have been on really safe holidays since the children were born, so it was great to go to a town that looks and smells medieval where the streets are cobbled and narrow and overrun with cats and where the smell is of mint and sardines and the occasional drain. There is a working port also overrun with manky cats, and fishing boats. I am still thinking of colourful souks, sweet mint tea and the beautiful light. The children started school again today, and I have that sinking feeling, too, as though I am back at boarding school, shivering by the cold radiator.

Is It Just Me Or Are Fad Diets a Waste of Time and Money?

I had lunch with a friend the other day. While I tucked into a substantial salad she sipped a sad black tea and boasted that she had lost 9...